The Ashes

Technology, Science and other news
April 10, 2009

Landfill Problems and Global Warming Effects

Posted by : admin
Filed under : General

The high moisture content or which receive artificial irrigation, rainwater, surface or groundwater infiltration produce leachate and methane gas at a high rate. It has been shown, from one study that once a dump is saturated, annual precipitation of 36 inches per year which exists in certain parts of the world can percolate 1 million gallons of contaminated water per acre annually.

This is a lot of contaminated water – also known as leachate or garbage juice! This contaminated water is ten to 1,000 times more contaminated and damaging to the local surface and groundwater than sewage, although it contains few human disease organisms (pathogens) and much fewer than sewage.

All nations also produce huge quantities of scrap tires. Waste scrap tires present landfill problems. They are hard to compact, may rise to the surface over time in poorly compacted waste and provide dangerous breeding grounds for mosquitoes and rats, in the water which collects in them. They also unfortunately do not disintegrate to reduce their volume in stockpiling.

Also if industrial hazardous wastes are landfilled the waste materials that will often be found in the site will be such that the sites will later be classed as contaminated land and do not meet the contaminated soil criteria. This is to be expected where regulatory control is poor but the cost to the community is hugely greater than paying for good regulation in the first place.

It is not realized by many in the community at large that waste prevention and recycling are critical to reducing or stopping climate change. Waste-to-energy (WTE) plants create heat and electricity from burning mixed solid waste. Because of high corrosion in the boilers, the steam temperature in WTE plants may end up being less than 400 degrees Celsius. This has to be avoided because at these temperatures of combustion many hazardous by-products of incomplete combustion will be present which are very harmful to the local environment and the health of future occupants, if not cleaned up.

But, the adoption of large scale waste prevention and recycling will help address global climate change by decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and saving energy (US Environmental Protection Agency).

The fact is that global warming, also known as the greenhouse gas effect, remains controversial in many quarters. Many still question the basis of the prediction of climate change. However, Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the United States agreed in principle to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases to somewhat below 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012.

In 1997 global cooling was a big environmental worry and an issue back then, but few paid attention to that either, and the concerns were soon found to be unfounded. The perspective in global cooling is similar to the way people view global warming now.

Landfill methane is an excellent and frequently untapped resource. Most times gases are simply flared or burned in the atmosphere, which is much less contributory to the greenhouse gas build-up which worries us all, than just letting the methane (landfill gas) escape without flaring. Landfill methane is typically flared in the developed nations, and almost never flared in the developing world\’s nations.

Opinions about landfill gas as an emissions problem, and even the producer of significant greenhouse gas emissions vary across the US. We have been made aware that state regulators consider methane to be a minor problem in New Mexico, due to the dry climate. However, Albuquerque is treating at least one serious methane problem with a high priority. State-by-state analyses nevertheless, do show a large and untapped potential for biomass-fired electricity generation. A very separate question, of course, is how much of this potential makes financial, environmental, or political sense.

However, interest in the use of landfill gas to fuel electricity generation is growing. Landfill methane is collected at a growing number of landfill sites and burned for energy production which mitigates the global warming effect of the methane as well as producing electricity and/or heat.

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